Along with everything these days, you can shop for your next pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses online. But while it may be convenient to be able to shop any time of day or night, many people prefer to try on a pair of glasses--in fact, multiple pairs of glasses--before purchasing them. Luckily for you, five of the top independent eyewear brands have New York City storefronts. Whether you browse their websites and try glasses on in the store or browse the store and buy online, you'll be getting your hands on quality eyewear that's both unique and creative. What's more New York than that?
Born in New York in 2009, Illesteva has its original location at 49 Prince Street in SoHo, and another storefront on the Upper East Side at 814 Lexington Avenue. This independent eyewear brand features glasses designed in NYC and handcrafted in France and Italy. Look for celeb-inspired pieces or consider the best-selling "Leonard" in classic tortoise. Whichever style you choose, don't be fooled by its apparent simplicity: These quality pieces take nearly 50 steps to produce--per pair!
2. Super by Retrosuperfuture
Daniel Beckerman founded SUPER by Retrosuperfuture in Milan in 2007, with the goal of designing well-made eyewear in eye-catching designs. And it's not just the look of the glasses--the company joined with German lens company Zeiss to ensure their lenses were of the highest quality possible. You can find New York's RSF flagship store at 21 Howard Street.
TOMS is a company on a mission, not just to fit you with cool, comfortable glasses, but also to make a positive social and environmental impact on the world. The company, first known for its shoes, launched its eyewear in 2011. Every purchase of a pair of TOMS glasses allows the company to help people in impoverished countries receive eye exams, eyeglasses, and--if needed--eye surgery. You can, almost literally, see the good you're doing. Find the New York storefront of TOMS at 264 Elizabeth Street.
4. Garrett Leight
Garrett Leight originated in Venice Beach, California in 2011 and opened its New York City store at 149 Grand Street in 2015. The brand's founder, Garrett Leight, learned the business working for his dad at his eyewear company, Oliver Peoples. Garrett Leight eyeglasses feature both vintage-inspired and "lifestyle" designs that are often showcased in fashion and style magazines.
Vuarnet has its roots in France of the 1950s, where optician Roger Pouilloux developed a sunglass lens perfect for skiers, like legendary downhill skier Jean Vuarnet. Today, the company is still known for its sunglasses, worn by such notables as Jeff Bridges' "Dude" in The Big Lebowski and Daniel Craig's James Bond in Spectre. Shop for your own pair of Vuarnet sunglasses or eyeglasses at 39 Spring Street, the location of its New York storefront.